Industrial - Bachelors
VIDA is a research informed, biophilic design that solves specific problems identified within the propagation market, and targets the opportunity to improve mental health. It is part furniture, part propagation device for the home context. It facilitates and optimises plant propagation success by providing what the plant needs through a controlled environment. VIDA is also designed to improve mental health by increasing user's connection with nature in home settings.
The purpose of this project was to understand the health implications of indoor gardening on people’s lives and to identify problem areas as well as potential opportunities for design intervention. Covid-19 had a significantly negative impact on people’s lives, especially during lockdowns. Indoor gardening activities are known to positively impact peoples mental health, which was reflected in the dramatic increase in horticultural activities in home contexts during these restrictions. VIDA responds to this opportunity through the design of a human-centred product that supports effective plant propagation in visually appealing furniture aesthetics for domestic use.
VIDA emerged as a response to problems and opportunities identified in the research. These included; limited space, propagation task and mental health. A detailed literature review was conducted across three areas for this project – biophilic design, human health and indoor gardening. Primary and secondary research were undertaken. For primary research, 2 loops of action research were deployed using online surveys (short and long answer) and for secondary research a literature review was conducted.
Research findings highlighted that people who actively engage with plants in home environments experience positive psychological benefits. The main problems identified in the research include; (i) limited space in the home context and (ii) factors that impact propagation (light, humidity and air flow).
VIDA was designed to address problems of space and propagation activities and to improve users’ psychological health in home context. Problems of space are improved by utilising a large propagation device that is able to house multiple plant cuttings at one time and at the same time serve as a side table. The design facilitates propagation and increases success rate by providing all of the controlled factors that plant cuttings need to successfully root – light, humidity and air flow.
Helps with keeping busy with indoor activities and also the dopamine fix whenever a new leaf emerges– Research Participant; discussing the impact of indoor gardening during covid-19
Introducing VIDA! Part furniture, part propagation device, VIDA facilitates and optimises plant propagation success by providing what the plant needs through a controlled environment. The product has been designed as a human-centred response to improve mental health – especially during covid-19 lockdowns. Ultimately, VIDA aims to positively impact people’s lives through biophilic design in domestic environments.
VIDA features a wooden top that can be rotated 180 degrees to conveniently place and reach for objects such as a coffee when sitting in a sofa.
The design can be operated through a touch screen located at the top or through a mobile app when away to turn device on/off, set desired humidity level and light duration.
Vida features a pole with a handle and removable inserts to place plant cuttings and propagation medium. The pole can be taken out of the main body and placed on a surface whilst placing or removing plant cuttings and medium from the inserts. The design is flexible and modular for individual needs.
The main driver for the aesthetics of the design is to make the greenery the visual focus. For this reason, the main part of the body, which is the largest part is completely see-through, to better display the plants. Natural textures and colours were also key to the design aesthetics. Utilising organic details was important to create a natural feel and association. The air flow that occurs at the top part of the design influenced the wavy patterns seen on the underside of the table and on the base of the pole. The top of the table also includes a see-through section to permit users to monitor plants while allowing greenery to be enjoyed. Lastly, black metal was used to accentuate the organic forms of the design, create contrast and communicate a sense of value.
VIDA was designed to make propagation, an enjoyable and an easy gardening experience. The device can be conveniently operated whilst the user is away through the app. Plants and root development can be easily monitored with a see-through design. The inserts and pole can be conveniently placed on the floor during the propagation activity. The main clear body can be easily and quickly cleaned as the inserts and pole can be taken out leaving the main body empty when cleaning. The automated system reduces user input and increases peace of mind. The table can be easily rotated 180 degrees for better reach.
VIDA was designed to be easily operated by the largest and smallest user, from both, sitting and standing positions. The touch display sizing and distance were designed to prevent unintended action by the largest user. The thickness of the table can be easily handled by the smallest user. The table side slots provide tactile guidance on grip location to the user during handling.
VIDA features full spectrum grow lights, 2 fans and a humidity sensor all fully automated. These electronics provide the needed amount of energy for photosynthesis, humidity and airflow for plant cuttings to fully promote root development. All these electronics are housed in the cavity between the table top and the table bottom. The table bottom features openings that allow humidity levels to be sensed and to control air flow.
VIDA features natural textures and natural colours on the wooden parts. This material, which is a combination of wood film on the surface and ABS on the underside, was utilised on the top part of the design and on the base of the pole. The wood film is chosen for aesthetics and emotional experience whilst the ABS is chosen for part performance. Clear acrylic was selected for the main body, the pole, and top cover to allow the plants complete visibility and remain the visual focus of the design. Acrylic was chosen due to manufacturing and performance characteristics. Clear ABS was selected for the plant inserts, the inserts base and the grow lights housing because of manufacturing, performance and aesthetic reasons. A metal black band was used on the feet and on the edge of the top part of the design to accentuate organic forms, provide contrast and convey a sense of luxury in the design.
VIDA was carefully designed for cost effective and local manufacture. The design parts are manufactured through extrusion, injection moulding, metal forming and welding.
The design process for this project consisted of several stages. The first stage was to conduct second hand research through literature review of three topic areas; biophilic design, indoor gardening and the impact indoor gardening has on human health. Second hand research also involved market research, materials, manufacturing and electronics, among other topics. Primary research was then undertaken through 2 loops of action research involving categorical and qualitative data. Data was analysed, synthesised and used to inform the design criteria. The project research was recorded and presented in a research report. Research and design criteria was followed by concept ideation, prototyping, testing, iteration, concept development and concept refinement. The end of the design process involved producing a high fidelity and functional prototype of the final design, create design renders and highly visual presentation boards. The entire design process was recorded in the Development Design Record (DDR).
Maria is a motivated industrial designer who values research informed and user centred design. Some of her strengths include ideation, prototyping, sketching, presentation and graphics. She has good experience with manufacturing, CAD and rendering softwares but is passionate to learn more. Maria's goal is to produce meaningful, functional, and beautiful designs that truly improve users' lives.